For most, 2017 was a taxing year. Traditional companies experienced a great deal of strain on revenues, and many traditional clients in the CPG/FMCG space moved to zero-based budgeting with added pressure on how their money is spent. Here are my market research predictions for 2018.
I’m hoping next year is more positive. Generally, as we’re faced with this underlying trend of lower budgets (even in larger companies – Unilever and Diageo have both talked up the success of zero-based budgeting programs), there’s a renewed requirement for clients to start looking at new technologies and new techniques to obtain valid insights faster and cheaper than ever before.
As an avid research technologist, having worked as both a quantitative and qualitative researcher, and now as founder and CEO of Zappi, I’ve seen how the industry’s status quo can take time to shift. With that in mind, these are my predictions for the year ahead of us…
1. One platform to rule them all
Marketing projects are happening quicker, there’s a disparity of media types, and we all know about the ‘agile’ trend (at least we’ve heard the buzzword). We’re seeing more and more companies take to working in agile, outside of development, where it originated.
Given this increase in requirements for speed, additional levels of data and data complexity at the same time as the natural human urge for simplicity, I predict a move towards clients wanting a single research platform.
In the same way that Salesforce is the key provider of sales materials, sales recording, and sales insights, we’ll see a dominant force emerge in the field. Of course, that’s where Zappi would like to be and where we’re working towards with our Pro platform, but multiple other companies are working on this too. We’re only at the very start of this movement right now – but it’s easy to imagine how transformative a single platform will be for the industry, where all of your analyzed data and reports are aggregated by machines.
We’re seeing clients beginning to think about this now, so it seems 2018 will be the year that more companies realize the benefits of having a single space for research and cross-analysis, with the ability to run different types of projects, cross-analyze findings, and have all key data in one location.
We’ll see the early stages of the trend very soon, without any major market shifts in my view until at least 2020.
2. More consulting
In 2018, we’ll come to see larger traditional research companies deciding to push a very specific consulting offer.
More clients will be in dire need of help as they manage fundamental changes when becoming more ‘agile’ and see ever increasing amounts of data crossing their desks. Seeing as research project execution itself has been largely automated, those larger research companies with great talent, thinkers, and storytellers will start to look at how they can provide deeper insights and skillful storytelling – whatever the project.
In the face of so much evolving technology, there’s still space for this kind of consultation-type approach to clients.
3. The implementation of Artificial Intelligence
In 2017, there’s been a lot of talk around Artificial Intelligence, being unkind you could suggest that much of it was “hot air”. But, if this year has been spent talking about AI – I’d like to think that in 2018, we will see more of it understood and implemented.
In the technology world, the focus is on machine learning which is a branch of AI. The research industry is doing a lot of thinking around this, there are many companies, including Zappi, who are experimenting with, and implementing, these solutions to solve real-world business needs. The industry needs this to make research better, faster, and most importantly – cleverer.
The trend will continue for years and we are all unsure of where or how it will end. We are focussed on improving the researcher, making them the hero through technology (the Iron Man or Woman of research!) but we will see multiple different approaches to the use of these technologies.
See you next year
2017 has been tumultuous politically and for businesses everywhere. I’m pleased to say that despite this, it’s been a year worthy of celebration for Zappi:
- We doubled our project sales
- We built automated and sophisticated statistical analysis tools
- And we soft launched our new insights management and execution platform.
Next year will be even bigger. We’ll be spending a lot of time at industry events, learning more about the industry’s breakthrough innovations, and we can’t wait to see which of the above predictions will come first.
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